Creating a vegan or vegetarian pasta that is loaded with flavor can be challenging at times. When I was a vegetarian in my 20’s ratatouille was a personal favorite but I must admit looking back it wasn’t that memorable even on a good day. Cooking the veggies in a pot on the stove always seemed simple enough but more often than not it would result in a mushy underflavored mess that needed a ton of parmesan cheese to mask the lack of flavor.
This roasted ratatouille pasta is a cure to all those less than stellar attempts of my youth. Roasting the vegetables makes the cooking much simpler, you just toss everything onto a sheet pan and pop it into a hot oven while you cook up a bit of pasta and then toss it all together. Roasting the vegetables allows them to caramelize and the addition of a bit of balsamic vinegar and tomato paste really intensifies the umami flavor. You can serve it with some grated parmesan or if you’d like to keep it vegan a nice sprinkling of nutritional yeast is an option.
I have to admit that we eat a bit crazily in my house. My son can’t eat any dairy products but loves to eat meat, I can eat dairy but prefer not to eat a lot of meat. The beauty of this dish is that it can accommodate a wide variety of palates and food sensitivities/preferences. You can add some sliced Italian sausage at the end, or slather it in parmesan or even some cubed fresh mozzarella if you want to go for something more decadent. The base recipe is completely vegan but you can go crazy with additions if you’d like!
I must admit that I made multiple versions of this before finding the right combination. The first time I roasted the tomatoes and vegetables separately but I would recommend combining the vegetables together for a deeper more intense flavor.
If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #scalingback on Instagram so I can see what you came up with!
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 red onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated on a
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 oz spaghetti
- ½ cup fresh basil, julienned
- parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast if vegan
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the veggies. You want all the vegetables to be roughly the same size as your tomatoes. Remove the stems from the cherry tomatoes and add to a large bowl. Trim the ends of the zucchini cut in half lengthwise into quarters and then dice into half-inch pieces. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise then slice into half-inch slices. Cut the slices in half and then dice into cubes. Cut the bell pepper and onion into half-inch dice In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic (I like to use a
microplaneand finely grate the garlic, it distributes the flavor better and has less tendancyto burn) shallot, tomato paste, fennel, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper and stir well to combine. Add the olive oil mixture to the vegetables and toss until everything is well coated. Spread the vegetables onto a parchment lined baking sheet into a single layer, tuck the ¼ cup of basil underneath the vegetables and roast for 35 minutes, stirring once or twice. The vegetables should be soft to the touch and slightly caramelized.
- While the vegetables are roasting bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve a cup of the cooking liquid, drain your pasta and add it back to the pot. Toss with the ratatouille mixture and top with the fresh basil and parmesan or nutritional yeast.